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Heavy Lifting Equipment for the Warehousing Industry

Heavy Lifting Equipment for the Warehousing Industry

At Shelving Depot, we are experts when it comes to planning and installing efficient, durable, and safe warehouse solutions. When designing your warehouse solution, it is important to realise that the lifting and handling equipment you have available has a large impact on the pallet racking layout.

In this blog, we discuss various handling equipment options and how they can serve to maximise warehouse storage capacity, efficiency, and return on investment.

Things to Consider Before Choosing Your Equipment

When designing your warehouse layout, you will need to have more than a rough idea of your pallet movements and required storage capacity. You should also consider growth potential and how this may impact pallet movements in the future.

Your warehouse space will also be a deciding factor in your final choice. If you have a smaller floor plan but lots of vertical space, you will naturally have a design that incorporates high shelves and narrow aisles, and you will need lifting machinery that works within that space.

We sometimes find that our clients will choose their handling equipment before planning their warehouse space which can prove to be an expensive mistake. When designing pallet racking solutions sometimes reducing aisle widths by as little as 200mm can allow clients to fit another run of racking into their space. If handling equipment is already confirmed this restricts the layout options and can result in a suboptimal warehouse solution.

In the article below, we have included notes regarding common aisle widths for each type of handling equipment as well as what volumes of pallet movements each machine is suitable for.

Standard Counter-Balance Warehouse Forklifts


Typical Aisle Width: 4500mm

Stock Movements: High


Typical Aisle Width: 3200mm

Stock Movements: High

Counter-balance forklifts are perhaps the most well-known in warehousing applications. As the name suggests, the two-pronged “fork” at the front of the forklift is counter-balanced by the solid rear of the forklift. These forklifts are best suited to large warehouses with relatively high stock movements as they are easily operated. Due to the design of counter-balance forklifts, relatively wide aisles are required to allow sufficient space for manoeuvring. These forklifts are often used to empty shipping containers, and most can be driven on asphalt as well as concrete making them a versatile option.

Turret Pickers / Side Loaders

Aisle Widths: 1900mm-2000mm

Stock Movements: Medium

A variant of the Counter-Balance forklift is the side loader. This design allows pallets to be loaded or unloaded from the pallet racking without the vehicle needing to turn. Consequently, these units can operate with narrow aisles helping to maximise the use of floor space in your warehouse.

Reach Truck

Aisle Widths: 2700mm with bottom beams or 3000mm without bottom beams

Stock Movements: Medium-High

Yet another variant of the counter-balance forklift, reach trucks allow you to operate with narrower aisles by using two stabilising out-riggers which distribute the weight loading. The stabilising out-riggers can run underneath the bottom beam of the pallet racking allowing the forklift to place pallets within a narrower aisle. These can usually handle lower weight loadings than counter-balance units.

Walkie-Stacker (walk behind)

Aisle Widths: 1800-2100mm

Stock Movements: Low

Suitable for lower stock movements, the Walkie-Stacker operator typically walks behind the unit using power-assisted steering to manoeuvre around the warehouse. Compared to a counterbalance, these operate off significantly smaller aisles freeing up precious space in your warehouse and improving your storage capacity.

Articulated Forklifts / Bendi

Aisle Widths: 1900mm-2000mm

Stock Movements: Medium-High

Yet another variant is the articulated forklift, originally designed and still widely manufactured and distributed by Bendi. Articulated joints allow these forklifts to operate as both front- and side-loaders, making them highly versatile and suitable for use in a wide range of warehouse settings. These are often used in warehouses with medium-high stock movements and narrow aisles.

Order Pickers / Man-Up / WAV

Aisle Widths: 900mm (dependent on the size of the order picker)

Stock Movements: Medium (not suitable for pallet storage)

Order pickers operate much like a scissor lift, taking the operator up to the level of the items stored in the racking. Unsuitable for handling pallets, order pickers are used for efficiently storing and picking many smaller items such as small parts or components.

Get in Touch to Find Out More

Shelving Depot are New Zealand’s leading storage specialists with over 20 years of experience in planning, designing, and building bespoke storage solutions. Our team of specialists work with you to create the storage system that will work best for you and help your business to compete and adapt well into the future. Call us today on (09) 275 0071 or email us at [email protected]